Melbourne's plan to tackle unconscious gender bias sounds silly, but it makes sense.

Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, is tackling gender bias with the help of traffic lights — and the plan might not be as wild as it sounds.

On March 7, the city debuted what is presumably the most controversial change to pedestrian traffic signals ever: The standard male (aka pants-wearing) stick figure was replaced with a female stick figure (in a dress), all in the name of gender equality.

Photo by Stefan Postles/Getty Images.


If it sounds silly, that's because it is — to an extent. Leaving aside the fact that assuming pants = man while dress = woman is a gender stereotype of its own, gender bias takes many forms with some very real-world effects, such as the wage gap, harassment, and just general inequality.

What Melbourne's yearlong experiment aims to explore is whether or not seeing women represented in everyday aspects of our lives where men are viewed as the default — such as with pedestrian signals — can have an effect on unconscious gender biases.

Photo by Stefan Postles/Getty Images.

Whether it's gender, race, religion, sexuality, or any number of other factors, we're all biased in ways that we aren't aware of.

These are called "unconscious biases," and they fuel countless decisions each of us make each and every day — usually without us even realizing it. This type of bias is the product of culture, society, and lived experience, and it can be really tricky to identify. Google even made a really cool video identifying how unconscious bias plays into their interview and evaluation process to show how we can unlearn some of those biases.

Photo by Stefan Postles/Getty Images.

Luckily, there's a way to identify and address this type of bias, and it's easier than you might think.

Harvard professor Mahzarin Banaji developed a test you can take to understand your own biases. And while you might be shocked by the results, remember that it's not a judgment of who you are as a person, it's the first step in becoming a more aware and unbiased individual.

In a 2015 blog post, bias expert Janet Crawford offered up some helpful steps to reduce your own biases in three simple steps: (1) build awareness through observation, (2) use whatever power you have to correct bias when you see it and improve representation, and (3) look for ways you can improve overall culture (whether it's company culture, societal, or something else). She also has a really great talk on the neuroscience of gender bias that's worth a watch.

Photo by ​Stefan Postles/Getty Images.

Will putting skirts on pedestrian traffic signals for a year eliminate gender bias? Of course not. But it does help start an important conversation that society needs to have.

So if you have a moment, go on and take some of the Harvard bias tests. You might be surprised with what you find out.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

True

The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Photo by R.D. Smith on Unsplash

Gem is living her best life.

If you've ever dreamed of spontaneously walking out the door and treating yourself a day of pampering at a spa without even telling anyone, you'll love this doggo who is living your best life.

According to CTV News, a 5-year-old shepherd-cross named Gem escaped from her fenced backyard in Winnipeg early Saturday morning and ended up at the door of Happy Tails Pet Resort & Spa, five blocks away. An employee at the spa saw Gem at the gate around 6:30 a.m. and was surprised when they noticed her owners were nowhere to be seen.

"They were looking in the parking lot and saying, 'Where's your parents?'" said Shawn Bennett, one of the co-owners of the business.

The employee opened the door and Gem hopped right on in, ready and raring to go for her day of fun and relaxation.

Keep Reading Show less
True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."